Whether you’re doing your own PR in-house or you’re hiring an external professional to help you, you cannot do your job without media contacts. After all, your relationship with journalists, reporters, and influencers can make the difference between earning media coverage and being completely ignored.
Journalists usually receive hundreds of emails daily. However, while a journalist’s job is to be open to unsolicited email pitches, there are certain things that companies do to get their attention that they will not tolerate. When you use tactics that a journalist does not appreciate, there is a very high chance that your company will be ignored and even blacklisted forever.
Tactics to avoid when doing PR
1) Targeting every journalist from every industry
While it may seem like an effective tactic to send a press release email out to any and every journalist and media outlet, mass emailing like this will be your company’s downfall. Using the scattergun approach and sending out an email pitch and press release to every journalist and media outlet in the hopes of getting their attention will do severe damage. This is because the pitches you send are not tailored to specific journalists who write about your niche, therefore it is not personalized to the target audience. Customizing each email pitch boosts your company’s chances of media success and helps you forge relevant relationships with influential journalists.
Journalists, reporters, and media outlets are smart, trained professionals who know how to do their job very well. They do not appreciate being blindsided or getting potentially embarrassed when information they should know about a company emerges from a third party. Not only will they look bad among their editors and possible employer, but something like this can also ruin their reputation in the public eye. Presenting outright lies, omitting critical details about a company, withholding information about a potential downside of the product/service can annoy a journalist. Once they realize what you’ve done, they will most likely withdraw their initial interest in the story.
3) Making demands
Whether or not a journalist or media outlet decides to write a story about your company is entirely up to them. They are not just sitting and waiting for your company to send them an email to write a story; they do not work for you. There is no situation where it is useful to make demands of journalists. What they choose to include in the actual story is totally up to them. While it is ok to follow up once the initial pitch has been sent, it is not ok to constantly hound or plead with them because they will get irritated, and it will also make the company look bad.
4) Late or missed deadlines
Journalists generally have set deadlines for the stories that need to be created and published. In order for your company to be a reliable source of journalists and media outlets, you should meet the requested delivery dates for information which you’ve promised to deliver. If you don’t return calls, you can cause a journalist to miss a deadline, which can be very bad on their end. This will give them a viable reason to sever their relationship with your company. However, there may be unforeseen circumstances that cause a company not to provide the information needed by the journalist. In that case, you should let the journalist know as soon as possible to possibly find another source or wait for a better time to publish the story. After all, the whole point is to make a journalist’s life easier.
5) Assuming you are the best
As much as you may think that your brand and the information you are trying to get across is new, innovative, and stands out from the crowd, a journalist may have heard it all before. When you into start a relationship with a journalist assuming you are the best in the business, the journalist will be turned off immediately. It makes no difference to them what your company does is if you have a pompous attitude. As mentioned before, a common misconception about journalists is that they are sitting around anxiously waiting for a story to come their way.
While journalists appreciate good stories, don’t imagine they are just twiddling their thumbs and waiting. If you go into a conversation with a journalist assuming you are the only one in the industry with a unique story or you simply have a terrible attitude, a journalist is more likely to skip past you and move on to a similar company with a better perspective.
How to build better relationships with journalists
The whole point of public relations is to build relationships with journalists and media outlets so that your company can reach its target audience. The previous section of this article discusses the tactics to avoid when trying to do PR. Let us now look at ways that you can build better relationships with journalists to reach your target audience and have someone on your team for future media outreach.
1) Become a reader/distributor of their work
Before you company even begin to send out pitches to your target journalists, you should know everything about them. It’s important to promote a journalist’s content by sharing it through social distribution channels, social networks, and elsewhere. This shows the journalist that a company has put in the effort to get to know their content, and taken the time to understand them.
2) Interact on social media
Since over 50% of people rely on social media as a news source, journalists spend a lot of time connecting with their audiences here. Social media platforms are so widely used by journalists. While they prefer beginning a working relationship with companies by email, social media offers companies a way to stay up-to-date on journalists’ interests and share social interactions. Bloggers specifically are often quite responsive to comments that they receive on their blogs, which provides an avenue for companies to interact with them while also being respectful of their time.
3) Hire PR professionals
While companies may be able to allocate their time and efforts to creating content for their PR campaign, some entrepreneurs struggle to add PR to the list of responsibilities that running a business comes with. If this is the case for you, it might be beneficial to hire PR professionals like Pressfarm to help with all your PR needs. Pressfarm works with companies to help create quality content from email pitches to press releases and press kits. With this content, it’s easier to achieve media coverage from outlets that matter. Pressfarm’s PR packages also provide access to a PR database of over 1 million journalists from various industries so that you can filter and find your perfect match and start building relationships with them without having to compile your own media list. Ultimately, Pressfarm’s content creation and distribution strategies are designed to optimize company SEO and achieve adequate online visibility.
4) Make resources known and available
Given that you want to build a mutually beneficial relationship with each journalist you reach out to, you should strive to help them do their jobs better. You should make as many resources as possible accessible to journalists. This can include your company’s organic content or about connections you have that can help the journalist. When building relationships, you should present yourself as a source of information and offer your resources and links to journalists. If you can do this, then you can convince the journalist that their needs are important to you.
5) Stay positive
While it may be disheartening when journalists decide to pass on your company’s story, you shouldn’t let this get you down. It just means that you might need to go back to the drawing board. Create an even more unique angle than what you originally thought of. A crucial part of building rapport with journalists and increasing the likelihood of a mutually beneficial relationship is continuing to be positive regardless of the outcome.
6) Keep reaching out, even when it doesn’t benefit you
One of the best things you can do to maintain a relationship with a journalist is to keep reaching out. You should do this especially when it doesn’t benefit you. Remember the connections we mentioned earlier – those connections which might be helpful to a journalist? Share those generously. If they happen to mention that they’re working on a story and you have access to a thought leader who could offer a few quotes or some insight, offer to connect the journalist to this thought leader. Looking out for a journalist when there’s nothing in it for you will put you in their good books. Once you’ve helped them a few times, they will be more open to taking a chance on you and writing about your brand in the future.
PR is all about building and developing a relationship between a company and journalists. When effectively, it can prove to be very beneficial for both parties. This is why understanding journalists is very important before even trying to pitch a story. Established companies can do large-scale media outreach of their own because they have experience. However, when it comes to startups and smaller companies, they may be able to compile all the necessary information, but fail to create an effective PR strategy. This is where PR professionals come in. With their expertise, you can create quality content and find the perfect journalistic match. Ultimately, partnering with a PR agency can help you get help to build relationships with the right journalists to get the media coverage you deserve.